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  • Frequently Asked Questions


    What if I get a notice that my water will be shut off due to lack of payment?
    Any owner(s) and/or known occupant(s) of the property have the right to request an impartial hearing to contest the shut off of water at the site. A request for a hearing must be received by the Department of Water within fifteen (15) of the date of the notice.

    The request for a hearing may be made in any of the three following ways, to:

    Department of Water
    Bureau of Finance
    106 City Hall
    233 E. Washington Street
    Syracuse, New York 13202

    1. Through a legibly written or typed request sent via certified mail to the Department of Water;
    2. Through a hand delivery to the Department of Water of a notarized statement requesting a hearing;
    3. Or by signing a request for a hearing form at the Department of Water.

    For Legal Advice, contact:

    Legal Services of Central New York
    Attention: Special Advocacy Unit
    472 South Salina St., 3rd Floor
    Syracuse, New York 13202
    (315) 703-6500

    I’m buying a house in the City, what do I do? 
    A final reading must be provided prior to closing. Please call our office at (315) 448-8238 on the day of the closing. We will calculate the amount owing to that day. Please be sure the bill is settled at the time of closing, as any outstanding debt will transfer with the property. We also ask that you provide the new owner’s name and billing information at this time.

    Where does my water come from?
    The primary water supply for the city of Syracuse is Skaneateles Lake, one of the Finger Lakes located approximately 20 miles southwest of the city.

    Has my water been through a filtration process?
    Skaneateles Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in the world. The high quality of the water makes it possible to utilize the lake’s water without filtration. Skaneateles Lake is one of the few large system surface water supplies in the country that is approved as an unfiltered water supply. The lake water passes through coarse screening and receives chlorine for disinfection and fluoride for dental hygiene. At the Reservoirs, the water is re-chlorinated and phosphate is added for corrosion control.

    How do I detect a leak within my house?
    Normally, if a leak is not visible, such as a dripping faucet, it could be in your toilet. Try putting some food coloring in the back of your toilet tank just before you go to bed, if the color has come into the bowl by morning (without being flushed) the toilet is leaking. These leaks can result in a high water bill if not detected and repaired.

    Is there fluoride in my water?
    Hydrofluosilicic acid is added to the water in order to maintain a fluoride level (target level of .7 mg/l) in the water sufficient to meet Onondaga County Dental Health requirements for dental hygiene.

    I’m moving into a house in the City, what do I do?
    Nothing, the owner is responsible for the bill. We are not involved in any lease agreement between owner and tenant.

    How safe is City of Syracuse Water drinking water?

    Public water supply sources and drinking water reservoirs sometimes contain very low levels of Cryptosporidium oocysts.  City of Syracuse water quality tests sporadically detect Cryptosporidium oocysts in the Skaneateles Lake tributaries, the water system intakes, and very rarely, in the distribution system.

    Current testing methods cannot determine with certainty whether Cryptosporidium detected in drinking water is alive or whether it can infect humans. In addition, the current method often requires several days to get results, by which time the tested water has already been used by the public and is no longer in the community's water pipes. Scientists do not know the threshold for numbers of oocysts that will cause someone with a healthy or a severely compromised immune system to contract cryptosporidiosis.

    In the event of a known outbreak of cryptosporidiosis attributed to drinking water supply, the City of Syracuse Department of Water, in consultation with the Onondaga County Health Department, would provide notification through local media. Detailed information for all consumers, including any mandatory protection measures, would be provided in the notice.

    No known outbreak of cryptosporidiosis has occurred from the Skaneateles Lake or Metropolitan Water Board Lake Ontario drinking water supplies.  At this time, there is no evidence of a significant risk of contracting cryptosporidiosis from City of Syracuse drinking water.

    Cryptosporidium and Giardia

    Surface water supplies and some groundwater supplies may contain either of two microscopic parasitic protozoa of concern:  Cryptosporidium and Giardia. 

    The New York State law requires water suppliers to notify their customers about the risks of cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis.

    Cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are intestinal illnesses caused by microscopic parasites. Cryptosporidiosis can be very serious for people with weak immune systems, such as recipients of chemotherapy, steroid therapy, dialysis or organ transplants, and people with Crohn’s disease or HIV infection. People with weakened immune systems should discuss with their health care providers the need to take regular extra precautions, such as boiling water at a rolling boil for at least one minute, or using certified bottled water or a specially approved home filter. Individuals who think they may have cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis should contact their health care provider immediately.

    The Syracuse Water Department routinely monitors water from our primary water supply, Skaneateles Lake, for the presence of both Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The chlorination contact time that the system is able to provide routinely oxidizes Giardia and renders it harmless, except at a few service connections to our transmission pipelines located between Skaneateles Lake and Syracuse. Cryptosporidium in a water supply poses more of a concern, since, unlike Giardia, it is not controllable with chlorination at the normal doses utilized in water systems.  For test results, see the City of Syracuse Water Department’s Annual Drinking Water Quality Report, posted on the City’s website at

    In addition to Skaneateles Lake water, the City occasionally supplements its supply with Lake Ontario water supplied by the Metropolitan Water Board (MWB), an Onondaga County agency. The City normally relies on Lake Ontario water during times when drought conditions limit the available supply from Skaneateles, during emergencies, or during periods of high consumption. Since the MWB system is connected to the City’s system on the north side of the City, this area may receive water from Lake Ontario from time to time.  Visit Metropolitan Water Board’s website at for information on the quality and testing of this water source.

    Drinking contaminated water is just one of several ways that Cryptosporidium can be transmitted.  To see more information about cryptosporidiosis and other means of transmission, visit the NYS Department of Health website at

    For more information on giardiasis visit

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City Hall: 233 East Washington Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 448-8005